GVSU Entrepreneur in Residence Offers Good Advice

By Jane Whitttington on November 23rd, 2015 / Comments

One job—normal. Two jobs—doable. Three jobs? For Spencer Covey, it’s par for the course. Covey is a mentor in his position as Entrepreneur in Residence; he’s a designer and consultant in his position at the Mercy Health Innovation Hub; and he’s an entrepreneur himself as owner and operator of Greetology, a 120 acre conference and retreat space in South Haven. As part of Greetology, Covey offers workshops and training in human centered design, brainstorming and team building.

As Entrepreneur in Residence at Grand Valley State University, Covey assists by participating in a class specifically for young people who hope to one day own their own businesses. Through the Entrepreneur Club at GVSU, he mentors and advises students and helps them move toward successful careers.

Covey has always been an entrepreneur himself. He started his first business at the age of 12 when he helped confused computer owners by teaching and advising them on computer use and repairing their malfunctioning computers in their own homes. Over time, he has had a house-painting business, has done property management, was part of a software start-up, did freelance marketing for various businesses, worked in healthcare consulting and founded Greetology. In his spare time he received a degree in accounting from GVSU, feeling that a keen understanding of finances was essential for any entrepreneur.

Covey said, “I have had a network of mentors throughout my career. However, for the most part, there wasn’t a huge entrepreneurial ecosystem around at the time that I was beginning. So the School of Hard Knocks was definitely part of my education. Nowadays, there are accelerators and funding sources, incubators and innovation centers. I didn’t have any of that.”

He continues, “I think my upbringing has had a lot to do with my drive. My dad owned his own business that his father had started. When I saw a need I thought I could meet, I just did it. I guess my question would be, why doesn’t everybody do it?”

In working with students in his position at GVSU, Covey says that he likes to steer them toward services businesses.

“I think it’s alluring to start a product business or develop an app. But it’s difficult and challenging and capital intensive to start that kind of business. Some examples of good businesses for beginning entrepreneurs might be landscaping, cleaning, painting, computer repair,” he said. “You can make some solid cash in these ‘lifestyle businesses’.”

He continues, “Both in the GVSU class and the Entrepreneur Club, we cover everything that goes into setting up a business. There’s a big focus on customer research, and we encourage them to talk to, interact with and network with those who might be potential customers or partners. We connect them with places where their ideas can enter start-up competitions and win money.”

GVSU now offers a degree in entrepreneurship, but the class Covey works with is open to other students as well.

Covey has advice for budding entrepreneurs:

Don’t give up. You have to power through difficult times; that just might be the time that things are starting to turn around. Read a lot. Work hard. Surround yourself with a quality support system. Don’t assume this will be a glamorous path through life. It’s a lot of work. The process is a learning experience, win or lose. Let the path roll out before you.”

For those keeping track, the websites for his various endeavors are: http://www.greetology.com/ ; www.gvsu.edu/cei/entrepreneur-in-residence-168.htm; and www.mercyhealthinnovation.com.


About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.